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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Third Eye by Mahtab Narsimhan is the first book in the Tara Trilogy. Since their mother left, Tara and Suraj have dealt with the cruel actions of their father’s new wife. They thought that was the worst of their problems until people started vanishing and a mysterious newcomer arrived. The new arrival possesses amazing abilities that wow everyone, although Tara doesn’t believe he’s as good as they make out. Tara develops a plan to discover what happened to her mother which draws her and her brother into the forest where they become lost and their only help comes from unlikely sources.
The story revolves around two siblings as they confront losing their mother, a cruel stepmother, dangerous creatures, and being lost in the woods. At the heart of the story is the relationship between them with Tara taking care of her younger brother. Grief plays a part in their journey as they’re still struggling with the loss of their mother and the longing for her is a consistent part of what drives Tara along each step of her journey. The tone of the story feels like reading a fairytale with the wicked stepmother and two siblings lost in the forest searching for a parent. Mahtab Narsimhan places a unique spin on this concept, creating something delightfully original.
The setting weaves between the village and the forest with each serving a specific purpose for how Tara’s journey moves forward. The forest adds to the subtle fairytale aesthetic with monsters and riddles. Narsimhan introduces various antagonists that the two siblings have to face, from their stepfamily to Zarku with his third eye and real monsters like a python. Elements of mythology are brought to life with subtle inclusions such as the Vetalas which adds richness to the story and helps to create this amazing world. The lovely writing is drawn from vivid details and succeeds in creating a story that makes The Third Eye enjoyable for all ages.